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A Case for Change: Don’s Towing Goes Digital

Don’s Towing has become a fixture in southeast Michigan since Joe Morisette bought the company almost 25 years ago. Over the years, Joe dealt with the challenges of rising costs and never ending competition, and has steadily grown his fleet to 12 trucks. Don’s Towing now serves nearly every police agency in the county and won the towing contract for the city of Port Huron. They also do calls for most major motor clubs and a steady volume of cash calls. In 2013, Don’s Towing was named Metro Detroit’s #1 towing service by NBC Channel 4’s Click on Detroit.

Joe’s son Joey Morisette joined the business at the age of 14, starting by helping around the office and riding along to assist with tows. It didn’t take long and Joey was behind the wheel doing calls himself. Now, more than 10 years later Joey plays a large role in running the daily operations of Don’s Towing.

The Challenge

Like most young people, Joey has spent a lot of time on computers so the thought of using towing software to help his Dad’s business seemed logical to him.  Seeing the advantages towing software could bring to the company, Joey became a driving force to start using software at Don’s. Several key things were behind Joey’s interest in towing software, including;

Hand-written “everything”. Like most towing companies, nearly everything Don’s did was hand-written. Their systems and processes worked but employees had to write everything down, and then manually calculate charges and storage fees. This was time consuming and too prone to innocent errors. It’s also too difficult to store records and locate the right file quickly when a customer or insurance company calls.

Reporting. Another challenge Joey was looking to solve was evaluating business performance. It was tough to dig into the details and analyze company performance with so much key data listed on hand-written forms or in file cabinets.

Automation.  With large accounts as an important part of their business, the Morisette’s were also looking for a system that would help bring automation to Don’s Towing. Including the ability to create and email electronic invoices and allow key accounts to request tows online.

The Solution

For towing software, Joey turned to Towbook’s web-based system. What attracted him to Towbook was a combination of affordability and features. Most importantly, Towbook is web-based so there’s no software to install on computers and you can use the system from anywhere with internet service, including smartphones and tablets. With no setup fees, free support and no extra cost to have a user account for every employee, Towbook seemed like the right choice.

The software features in Towbook that attracted Joey the most include;

Paperless.  Having a system that automatically calculates charges and storage fees, and can generate an invoice or account statement with a simple click of a button was a huge factor.

Police App. Don’s Towing was invited to join a group testing Towbook’s new Police App. With this new app, police agencies use a version of Towbook (for free) that allows them to assign calls straight to towing companies in their community.  Police officers can even create a request from a smartphone and the call is automatically created inside Towbook for the towing company.

Mobile apps. The ability for drivers to receive calls on a smartphone was appealing to Joey. With mobile apps, drivers can scan VIN numbers, take photos of vehicles and add them to the call and capture the customer’s signature – right from their Android or iPhone. The Towbook mobile apps also work with mobile printers so drivers can print a tow receipt right from their truck.

Motor Club Calls. Towbook recently launched a new system that accepts calls from most motor clubs directly into the software. This saves time and eliminates mistakes. Now, when a motor club issues a call to Don’s it’s dispatched automatically within seconds.

Commission. Tracking commissions is difficult and time consuming. The opportunity to use a system that could track commissions accurately and generate commission statements for employees was very appealing.

Results

After launching the software in July of this year, the results were incredible and nearly instant.  Joey Morisette provided some feedback on the experience and the impact towing software has made so far;

“First off, we didn’t have to install software on any of our computers and Towbook helped us set up our accounts and pricing in the system so getting started was pretty easy.”

“We can now find records in an instant – even if I’m at home when an account calls, I can look up the information and send it to them from my phone.  I love the fact that we can see what’s going on at work and we can handle customer requests when we’re on the move. “

“It’s also great that we have access to all our historical records. I can pull up a call from July and see photos of the vehicle, review notes and send that paperwork to anybody who needs it.”

“When a customer comes to pick up a vehicle we can check them out in under a minute because the system automatically calculates all charges and we simply pull up the call and print or email them a professional invoice.”

“Before launching Towbook, we had to manually track letter due dates, but the system automatically reminds us when letters are due. The system can even create letters automatically if we need them.”

“If I want to see how the company did yesterday or last week, I simply run our Daily Activity Report in Towbook and we have an instant summary of our call performance.”

What was hard about launching the system?

Change is hard, especially for a company that’s been in business for so long. Joey Morisette provided some insight about what was challenging when launching towing software and what’s next for them;

“I think the most important thing is you have to be serious about change. Some employees wanted to go back to the old way of doing things rather than using the software. Towing software changed a lot of what we do but it made things better, so you have to put your foot down.“

“It took us about a week to fully make the switch and things were hectic for a while as we changed over. Our employees were used to the system within a few days and after just a few weeks all of our calls were done through Towbook.”

“There is still a lot more we can do with the system, it seems like every day I find something or think of something more we can do with Towbook that will help us get better or grow the business. I’m going to be in this business for a long time and I couldn’t imagine trying to compete without something like this.”

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